Press Release

As Nigeria joins the rest of the global community to commemorate the 2020 World Humanitarian Day (WHD), the National Human Rights Commission is urging government at all levels and other stakeholders not to compromise on the security of all humanitarian workers who despite all adds, work round the clock to provide a lifeline and protection to people in need.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu, Esq who stated this in Abuja on the eve of the 2020 WHD celebrations emphasized the need to adequately equip and support humanitarian workers in order to encourage them to diligently discharge their difficult and challenging responsibilities to humanity.

Ojukwu recalled the origin of WHD when on the 19th August 2003, 22 people including the Chief Humanitarian Officer in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello were bombed at the Canal Hotel in Baghdad for which the UN General Assembly designated the Day to honour the victims and other humanitarian workers around the globe.

He stated that the WHD which is observed on 19th of August annually in honour of all aid and health workers killed or injured in the course of their duties, remains an auspicious occasion to reminisce over the efforts and sacrifices of these humanists whether dead or living. While assuring champions who are still in the field that their sacrifices are not in vain but rather appreciated.

According to the human rights Czar, the rising level of insecurity across Nigeria and the world at large coupled with the novel COVID-19 pandemic which effects have virtually crippled world economy with high morbidity and mortality rate have made humanitarian work a more risky and daunting task.

“In Nigeria alone, insurgency, kidnappings, ethnic clashes, armed banditry and Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) etc. have unfortunately thrown up a number of humanitarian issues which government and development partners are grappling to address”, the Executive Secretary remarked.

Meanwhile, he commended the federal government for the thoughtfulness in creating a Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and other interventions to address the plights of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees, returnees, migrants which if left unattended to, will snowball into further violations of human rights.

While commiserating with the families of humanitarian workers who lost their lives during the course of their work, the NHRC Boss used the opportunity to urge Nigerian institutions and organizations to always mainstream human rights in their daily activities in line with extant national, regional and international human rights and humanitarian laws to enhance the inherent dignity of mankind.

In order to improve the plight of placed countries and humanitarian workers, the National Human Rights Commission is working with the Ministry of Justice, Defence, Civilians in conflicts and other stakeholders to adopt a National Security Policy for the protection of civilians. When adopted, this will improve the climate for humanitarian workers and displaced communities in the country.

Fatimah Agwai Mohammed

Assistant Director Corporate Affairs and External Linkages, NHRC.